Music Is My Church

By Sarah McLachlan

Music is life. Melody and song have been the golden threads woven into and through the fabric of my time on this earth. Its powerful energy runs through us all, underneath, like the ocean at times quiet and calm and then raucous and wild, joyous, or raging with fury mirroring all our many moods and helping us feel, hear and tell our stories.

Music is about connecting to ourselves, to each other, sharing, and being, for even a moment, part of something much bigger — creating communities of like minds and spirits; allowing that weight we carry to feel a little lighter, for the joy we grasp to last a little longer and for the pain we all endure to be understood a little better. Music is my church.

As a child, I was insecure and didn’t fit in and became a target. I was bullied and much of the time I was left to fend for myself so music became my saviour, my solace. It was the one thing I knew I was good at; it fed me and kept me going; it was a friend whenever I was in need. I truly don’t know what I would have done without music in my life when I was growing up.

The studies regarding the far-reaching benefits of music are everywhere, citing improved test scores including math and science, better class attendance and day-to-day behavior. Yet, with all this data in front of us that clearly highlights the importance of music programs, both Canada and the United States are cutting access to music and the arts like never before. The headline of “Budget Cuts: No More Music” has played on for too long as those most affected are children with few resources and little to no access to alternatives.

I have been truly blessed in my life with the opportunities music has provided me and one of my ways of thanking the universe was to open the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. Our free after-school program provides underserved and at-risk children who have very little or no access to music. It’s a program designed to build self-esteem and foster creativity through the power of song and sound. Students are taught in an environment of respect and equality.

This isn’t American Idol-style where children compete against each other or only the most talented are accepted. We collaborate with local teachers and schools to identify children in Grades 4-12 who will most benefit by our program. No music experience is required. It’s an amazing gift to see students develop a love of learning music and to watch their burgeoning pride as they begin to realize their potential. They believe in their talents, in their accomplishments, in themselves, and they’re gaining the confidence to go after their dreams. I am thrilled to know that I’m able to offer something truly meaningful to this emerging generation.

For the first 9 years we were partnered with a wonderful arts organization, Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella, and went through a few temporary spaces that never fully suited our needs. Then, with the impetus of a wonderful new space donated by the Wolverton Foundation that we could call our permanent home we decided to end the partnership and go out on our own.

We now have our own school to house and support our growing student base and outreach programs. We have found alternative methods of funding by sharing our story with others who share our vision as well as putting on a benefit concert “Voices in the Park” this September in Vancouver. Artists Stevie Nicks, Bryan Adams, Jann Arden, Hedley and more will join me to share what music means to them and we will be joined by the students of the Sarah McLachlan School of Music.

I know when I think about the immense gift music has been for me throughout my life and as I watch the excited students walk out on that stage filled with anticipation and promise it will serve as a reminder of why this program and arts education is so very important.

This blog post was recently featured on Huffington Post. To view go to:

What an Audience at the Festival d’été de Québec 2012!!

“I am grateful for everything that has happened in my career and I feel blessed to see you tonight. You are the biggest audience I’ve ever had! Quebec, thank you for inviting me.” xo,Sarah

Photos in Quebec City at the Festival d’été de Québec — a fantastic crowd of 80,000!!!

Sound Check at Festival d’été de Québec 2012

Here are a few photos from sound check today at the Festival d’été de Québec 2012. We take the stage at 9:30 tonight in from of an estimated crowd of 80,000. Are you here??

What’s Playing Sarah????

Sarah McLachlan PlaylistSarah McLachlan Playlist

Book Of Love – Peter Gabriel

Flume – Peter Gabriel

Time – Tom Waits

A Case of You – Joni Mitchell

The Bad in Each Other – Feist

To Build A Home – Cinematic Orchestra Ma Fleur

Across the Universe – Rufus Wainwright

How Can I Tell You – Cat Stevens

Hallelujah – KD Lang – 2010 Live from Olympics
What songs would you add???

Rehearsals for Symphony Tour & More

“It’s so thrilling to have the immense power of the symphony surrounding my music like a rich, cinematic blanket .” xoS

Rehearsals for tours are always unique. Some tours we spend considerable time revising the music and practicing together, however, this tour was all about being prepared ahead of time and as noted in the earlier post our conductor Sean O’ Loughlin spent considerable time prepping the orchestras. Sarah & our band — Luke Doucet (guitar, vocals) & Melissa McClelland (vocals, guitar, bass guitar); Vincent Jones (musical director, piano, keys, vocals) & Curt Bisquera (drums) were all on tour last year together so the incredible talent, familiarity of the songs and nuances accelerated the rehearsal curve.

Sarah McLachlan Quebec July 13, 2012

While in Detroit we rehearsed for the July 13th Quebec show that will not include an orchestra.

We kicked off in Toronto with a full day and night of rehearsals prior to the tour opening. The band really gelled and variations were abundant until the perfect flow was captured. Sean followed along (shown in the top photo) as the next day the Toronto Symphony would be joining the rehearsals. The day of the opening concert the orchestra arrived and we had about a 3 hour+ run through. The positive energy was undeniable and we were all elated as the music came together.

Each tour stop along the way provided us with a new orchestra. This was a great way to introduce the local symphony to fans who may not have been to a symphony before and vice versa. Our hope is that this built some new fans on both sides. This approach was also quite successful in a previous partnership Sarah did with the sold out performances of the Alberta Ballet’s “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy”.

Orchestra arrangement for “Hold On”

The orchestra for each city would be in rehearsal mode for about 5 hours the day of performance. Pre including gear/setup takes about an hour and a half and mic and linecheck and addition hour and a half. The actual rehearsal inclusive of the band & Sean is about 2.5 hours. These consummate professionals prepared ahead of time and flawlessly play through the arrangements. This is where it is so special to be a part of the Sarah McLachlan team as there is not any sound other than listening to this gorgeous orchestra playing along with the most beautiful musical instrument we know – Sarah’s voice.

The Road More Travelled

First of all Happy Canada Day!! Hoping you all have a very safe and fun day while we are cruising through the US with a stop today in Detroit. Of course with July 4th coming up we are hoping to take in some fireworks as it is a day off/travel day. Each venue and each audience is unique and we have had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic fans. Sarah really enjoys the Meet & Greet she has prior to many of the events and the personal stories many of you have shared during this time.

Once a show ends we all scoot over to our respective tour bus and get on the road pretty fast to our next destination. The tour bus driver sleeps/rests during the day and then safely takes us to our next stop. Every once in a while it is faster than usual so we pile in and take off any makeup etc…. while on the bus. The photo above (a favorite of ours) was taken on the tour bus after a terrific show in Nashville as we knew we had a good 8 hours ahead of us en route to Chicago.

Where are we??? The logistics behind the tour are pretty cool really and we added the map below of where we are going. Prior to the tour our tour manager, Dan Cleland, hands out a “Tour Guide” that outlines the route we will take, how long to get there and when we need to be ready to go. This way everyone is aware of times, hotels including amenities, rehearsal times etc…. and the general route we are headed. On longer tours this is especially helpful in the “now, where am I” kind of way.

Our route: Sarah McLachlan Tour Bus Route

Sarah McLachlan Brings Fans to their Feet

The response from all of you has been fantastic, we really enoy reading your comments while we are on the tour bus (yes, it has wireless – how cool!!!). We’d all like to thank each of you for your shares/comments on twitter, facebook etc… and the love you bring. At the end of the day it is your concert experience that matters the most so THANK YOU!! Sarah describes it as a big love in … “I am thrilled with the response from my fans at the shows…it feels like a big love in”.

After seeing Sarah’s performance at The Centre de Nature in Montreal Quebec, The tweeted, “Canadian Contributor reports the summer’s must see concert is @sarahmclachlan. Coming to the States soon, mesmerizingly brilliant.” glowed “McLachlan sounded golden, confident and was beaming all night.” And the Toronto Sun raved “Her duo of Fear and Possession were vocally stunning, producing wave after wave of standing ovations.”

Add your buzz and review ….

Sean O’Loughlin – Conductor, Sarah McLachlan Tour

Sean O’Loughlin has been identified as a “a fresh voice and a rising name in the music world” and we consider ourselves fortunate to have Sean on tour this summer with us. Sean’s easy going style and professional demeanor is a perfect match in his role as the arranger and conductor for each of the orchestra’s in the cities we travel to.

Here is how the tour works – our band and Sean travel to each tour stop and then the hometown orchestra such as “Nashville Symphony Orchestra” then play in that town. Sean provides the arrangements ahead of time to the orchestra librarian and manager and then day of the concert leads them through a 3 hour-ish rehearsal. Sarah & the band sit in also for the majority of the rehearsal and then boom … show time!! Sean grew up in Syracuse, New York but what city is Sean looking forward to performing at the most??? Find out in our video interview backstage with Sean!!

Tour Bus Travels – Montreal & Beyond

We left Toronto after our reception Friday night around 11 for our 6 hour trek to Montreal. Bonjour Laval! This is our first night of many sleeping on the tour bus; an essential when touring and on this one we have two of them. They are basically tricked out Prevost’s with bunks three high, a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and a whole lot of tv’s. When the concert ends we have about an hour to get changed and pack up our essentials – usually we are out of the venue around 10:30 or 11.

Bus one has Sarah and family, the band, Sean and a few others while bus two (far more “active”) has the rest of the crew on board. There are some interesting bathroom rules common to touring – that’s all I’m sayin’. Feel free to comment below if you know!!!

Symphony Tour Opening Night

Perhaps it was the electricity in the air from the storm last night that ran through each of us. Whatever it was, it was a premonition of being a part of something very special.

Sarah McLachlan Summer Symphony Tour - Opening Night in Toronto

Sarah McLachlan Summer Symphony Tour 2012 – Opening Night in Toronto

The afternoon brought the Toronto Symphony to the stage for over 3 hours of rehearsals led by our tour conductor Sean O’ Loughlin. Sean provides the arrangements to the respective symphony’s ahead of time and then steps in to conduct during the concert. Once the orchestra settled in Sarah and the band joined for several hours for a run through. Instant magic.
Sarah McLachlan Summer Symphony Tour 2012 - Opening Night in Toronto

Sarah McLachlan sings “Angel” Opening Night

The excitement of the amazing Toronto crowd was apparent from the moment Sarah opened with “Good Enough”; they were one. Admittedly a bit nervous before the show, Sarah looked like she was at home on stage and glided from song to song with love and care. “Sweet Surrender” brought the first of many standing “o’s” and rightly so – Sarah’s voice, the new arrangement and the stellar symphony were all simply breathtaking. We wish you were there and maybe you were?

We had a little reception after the concert with friends, family, the band etc… and said good-bye to many as we were headed next to our Tour bus and off to Montreal!! Bonne nuit et à bientôt, ~Tour insider